Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Review

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With the teaser trailer release for David Lowery’s latest directorial effort, I decided this would be a perfect moment to go back and watch his other works, specifically his latest feature length. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints stars Rooney Mara, Cassey Affleck, Ben Foster, among others, it tells a tale you’ve probably seen before, but because it evokes an early Mallick essence and is supported by great acting and dialogue, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints rises above as a hypnotic look into undying love. Cassey Affleck is one the most underrated actors working today and though I struggled with his accent at times, Affleck proves he’s great by presenting us with a character who’s done some wrongs, knows it, regrets it, and though he appears to be ignoring those troubles if you approach him, the truth is he’s a damaged scoundrel trying to regain the only thing that worked and made sense in his life before he got sent away, that being his family. Rooney Mara and the baby she carries are the reason behind this man’s determination and though we only get like five minutes to see them together, it through the way Affleck retells stories to several characters along the way that you get the sense of pure love that radiates off Affleck’s character. But, to care for such a perplexing individual you must have a foil, in this case Rooney Mara. Apart from the throwback-type cinematography, Rooney Mara was by far my favorite part of this film, once again she presents us a character with her subtle acting methods, disguising her vulnerability as much as she can yet eventually having to confront that misconstrued idea in her mind. To help her get to that point of acceptance is another of the most underrated actors working today, Ben Foster who subtly changes emotions upon each visit to Mara’s character. Through this rotating dynamic from character too character, from storyline too storyline Lowery presents us with a sad vision into a classic tale of undying yet forbidden love. All the things I mentioned above I truly thought worked magnificently, presenting the a harsh, complex yet resound love story meanwhile the rest of the film just felt slow and flat. Though the focal point is this central love story of people trying to get back together yet being stopped psychologically (from Mara’s side) or physically (from Affleck’s side), there are a variety of useless extra story lines that don’t seem to complement the film in any way, especially anything to do with the angry gang who we keep cutting back too even though its incredibly unnecessary. With that said, at its core, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints does present us with an emotional, hypnotic perspective on forbidden love that seems to be corrupted by useless secondary story lines that deflate the film’s value and only serve to rally up more screen-time or function as plot devices, leading me to rank  the film at a 64 out of 100.

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